Python Training by Dan Bader

Rolling the dice

I read a great comment a while ago that could be summarized as “everything you attempt and every action you take has a probability of success”.

In other words, there’s no guarantee for success just like there isn’t one for failure. You do all the preparation you can to put the odds in your favor, but ultimately you roll the dice and observe the outcome.

This mindset really resonated with me because I tend to stress about failure and rejection more than I want to. It stuck with me and helped reduce my stress levels some situations.

But let me try to explain this idea a little further. In a computer game for example, it’s hard to feel upset about failing some skill check and not hitting the monster with your sword like you wanted to. You expect the action to fail a certain percentage of the time, even when your skill level is high. Usually you can also estimate your chance of success through a proxy like some skill meter or your character level.

In a pragmatic sense that’s also how the real world works.

We all have a gut feel for what our chances of success are at whatever we’re doing. Like in the game example, we can often train a skill or use a tool to influence our odds.

I kicked this idea around some more. One day I decided to consciously bring up the mental image of “rolling the dice” every time I attempted something where I worried that it might fail. For example introducing myself to someone I had never met before, interviewing for a job, or spending an hour to draft up a blog post.

I found this to be a great technique to get myself pumped up and into an optimistic state–which has the nice side effect of increasing my chances of success further.

It feels like I’m giving myself a mental flu shot, helping to protect me against the psychological side-effects of failure.

Someone might say that often, the single, seemingly “black and white” decision points aren’t that important. Usually it’s a series of little decisions that let you finish a project successfully or become friends with someone new.

However, I also found the “rolling the dice” mindset useful for the bigger projects in my life.

Even when I worked hard for something only to ultimately miss the goal I had set for myself it became easier for me to look back and accept the outcome, thinking “I tried and rolled the dice”.

There’s never a guarantee for success although we all hope for it. Adopting a “rolling the dice” mindset helped me accept that fact and became a great tool to reduce my fear of rejection or failure when it matters the most. If you try this out, please drop me a quick line and tell me about your experience.

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This article was filed under: productivity, and thoughts.

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